(Click here to read the lecture on a single webpage.)
We can trace the development of this architecture through Romanesque and Gothic forms, though stone vaults rather than timbered ceilings necessarily limited the width of such buildings. Later Gothic developments, with the construction of flying buttresses and the ever more daring refinement of ribbed vaulting, allowed for greater space in the main body of the building, the nave.
Neither of the Cathedral churches of which I speak has flying buttresses; neither needed them since neither has stone vaulting. St Mungo’s has a barrel vault to its chancel, while in the nave the wooden beams which support the roof are exposed to view.
St Andrew’s vault-like construction is of timber and plaster, something not unknown in later medieval buildings, as one discovered when lightning set on fire the north transept of York Minster some decades ago.
Both of our Cathedrals are in the Gothic style, St Mungo’s demonstrating an authentic and in part innovative development of a medieval church of large proportions, stressing the soaring upward thrust of pure Gothic.
St Andrew’s is an early essay in neo-Gothic, constructed at the beginning of the revival of this style by an architect whose name and genius in the deployment of early architectural forms is known to us, namely James Gillespie Graham.
When you learn that he is the architect of a building such as St Andrew’s and at the same time of the palladian grandeur of the Moray Place buildings in Edinburgh’s New Town, you can appreciate his competence and versatility as an architect.
As with most medieval buildings we do not know the names of the architects of St Mungo’s Cathedral. We use the words in the plural of course since what we have in that magnificent building is a work which proceeded over a period of some 300 years, and in all probability was the work of master builders, the later ones sensitively ensuring that their work, certainly at St Mungo’s, fitted in with what an earlier generation had built.